W.Va. Dem: Supreme Court ruling 'chink in EPA's armor'

Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) cheered a Supreme Court ruling on Monday that slightly curbed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from industrial sources.

In a 5-4 ruling, the high court said the EPA may only regulate newly built or modified industry sources, including power plants, and refineries, to reduce greenhouse gases if they already are required to hold permits for conventional pollutants.

Those conventional pollutants include soot, or emissions causing smog.

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"While I would like to have seen the Court issue a strong rebuke of the agency, today’s narrow ruling represents a chink in the EPA’s armor,” Rahall said in a statement. 

Rahall is facing a tough reelection race this year in coal-heavy West Virginia, and has made his opposition the EPA's climate regulations a major part of his campaign.

"Those of us fighting against this EPA to protect coal jobs have been arguing that the agency is out of control and stretching its authority far beyond legal limits," he said.

The high court ruling does not bring major changes to the day-to-day practices of the EPA, thought it will limit the number of industrial polluters that fall under its current permitting program.

Still, the permitting program was not struck down, nor did the justices address the administration's controversial new proposal for exiting power plants to cut carbon dioxide emissions 30 percent by 2030.

While the ruling won't impact the new regulations, it may provide fodder and hope for opponents of the administration's new regulations.

Opponents may look to the conservative justices on the court for a possible narrow reading of the EPA's new rules on carbon emissions.

Either way, Rahall vowed to fight the regulations in Congress.

"I am glad to see the Court chip away at any of EPA’s over-reach, and you can bet I’ll keep fighting the agency in Congress," he said.